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Adventure Path Pathfinder Review Roleplaying

PF AP03 Second Darkness

Pathfinder – AP

Adventure Path #3 – Second Darkness

Introduction

​A strange light in the sky holds a danger unknown for ten thousand years! Deep beneath Golarion’s surface, the greatest shame of the elves is stirring once more. Seething with hatred, the drow have come up with a plan to wipe out their ancient enemies and bring a second Age of Darkness. And this time, there’s only the heroes to stop them…

In the Second Darkness Adventure Path, the heroes venture from the Varisian pirate haven of Riddleport to an island overrun by extraterrestrial terrors, a fallen forest capital of the elves, the subterranean realm of the drow (where they are disguised as drow themselves), intrigue-laden elven courts, and a mysterious realm forgotten by time itself, known as the Land of Black Blood.

Running the Game

This article is the third in a series detailing my thoughts on the set storyline called an Adventure Path with is new for each season. Each article covers one season (storyline) of play. The first couple of adventure path are written with the rules from Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 by Wizards of the Coast, and are compatible with the Pathfinder ruleset later created by Paizo to continue their line of products.

This is my thoughts on the books, storyline and possible issues I found while trying not to produce any spoilers for the storyline.

This adventure path was run from 8th July 2014 to 28th April 2015 over seventeen sessions.

  • Campaign Rules:  Published Books, including Mythic playtest (Paizo, converted from 3.5 on the fly)
  • Timeframe: 8th July 2014 to 28th April 2015
  • Total Sessions: 17 sessions
  • Gaming Group: Tuesday Night (fortnightly)
  • Campaign: Season 3 – Second Darkness
  • Experience: As obtained from storyline milestones
  • Special Campaign Rules: Elves and Drow
  • Note: conversion of 3.5 to Pathfinder for play, session notes in OneNote, tabletop environment in D20Pro and character creation in Hero Lab.

New Mechanic: Mythic

For this campaign I am trialling giving my player characters and NPC’s one mythic level per book to see how that progresses in the storyline.

Each book completed I gave out one level of Mythic to see how well the players could go with it. Unfortunately it was not as much as a success as I would have liked it to be, and accelerated the combat with abilities and powers that did away with the need to roleplay. So less talking and more combat as they gained power.

This has me thinking of only using mythic with the NPCs in the future to give them a challenge, but not make them too powerful.

Players Guide (also free PDF)

Useful info for the players to get a copy of, though its stats are D&D 3.5.

This is the start of what would become the player oriented pathfinder supplements. Though while it is player oriented, it can be very useful for the games master, and sometime necessary to keep up with what the players are trying to do.

Book Contents:

  • Introduction (2 pages)
  • Second Darkness Player’s Guide ((12 pages) – gives an overview of what to expect with races and classes in this adventure path as well as going into detail on traits.
  • Welcome to Riddleport (6 pages) – is a detailed look at the starting city for the adventure.
  • Combat (2 pages) – A prestige class known as Liberator
  • Faith (2 pages) – Items relating to a follower of Cayden Cailean
  • Magic (2 pages) – Spells of the cyphermages
  • Social (2 pages) – A spelunker’s Treasury
  • Persona (2 pages) – Lavender Lil a personality of the city

Into the Darklands

This is a must have for any games master telling you about the underground regions as part of the campaign.

I would not want to run this campaign without this book. While it is only really necessary for two of the books of the series, it does provide a wealth of information and allow a little more improvisation on the players side.

Book Contents:

  • Exploring the Darklands (16 pages) – provides a map, details of the region and information on language that help set the tone.
  • Nar-Voth (12 pages) – this is the upper region of the darklands that get more details with a more detailed map of the area.
  • Sekamina (14 pages)- this is the middle region of the darklands that also get more details and a map to help you run it.
  • Orv (10 pages) – this is the lower region of the darklands, more wild and untamed that the rest.
  • Bestiary (12 pages) – The bestiary starts without a heading, and while the book has monster stat blocks spread through out it, there are a couple of detailed one added here.

Book 13 – Shadow in the Sky

4 Sessions: I ran it over four sessions from 8th July 2014 to 19th August 2014.

Strange portents loom over the city of Riddleport, and only the heroes can figure out what new menace has arisen in Varisia’s freewheeling pirate cove of Riddleport. Also includes an overview of Riddleport, new gambling games at the famous Gold Goblin gaming hall, and Eando Kline’s rust-monster-plagued excursion into the Darklands.

This book expects the characters to gain enough experience to go from level 1 to 4.

An introduction to Riddleport and its surrounds. The adventure begins with a ill omen “A Shadow in the Sky” for which the adventure is named after. The player characters are given the chance to enter a gambling competition at The Gold Goblin gambling hall and with many adventure options they have the chance to run the place. The storyline concludes with a battle against a Drow and a falling star.

My group had a character who would fall asleep every combat, either knocked out, poisoned, or with magic. He would always be in the line of fire and somehow managed to live through the book. Due to the back luck he ended up not continuing much further. My players were happy to take the chance at running the gambling hall and enjoyed having a base of operations in Riddleport.

And while the Drow was not a surprise to the players, as it was on the cover of the book, for the characters it was quite the shock in meeting these mythological boogeymen.

Book Contains:

  • Introduction (2 pages)
  • 4 part Adventure (41 pages)
  • Riddleport – City of Cypers – Guide to the city (8 page)
  • The Gold Goblin – A gambling hall in Riddleport. (8 pages)
  • St Caspieran’s Salvation – An 1st level side adventure set in Riddleport (8 page)
  • Pathfinder’s Journal – Fear in a Handful or Rust (8 pages)
  • Bestiary (8 pages)
  • The Darkness Has Come – Overview of Adventure Path (2 pages)
  • Pregen Characters at level 1: Sajan (male human monk), Lini (female gnome druid), Seltyiel (male half-elf fighter) and Amiri (female human barbarian)

Book 14 – Children of the Void

3 Sessions: I ran it over 3 sessions (Sessions 5 to 7) from 2nd of September 2014 to 14th of October 2014.

The fall of a star sends crime lords and heroes rushing to claim the meteorite’s valuable skymetal, only to be confronted by strange and alien creatures ready to spread their bizarre seed across an unsuspecting world. Includes an overview of the fantastical worlds of Golarion’s solar system and the rowdy faith of Cayden Cailean, god of adventurers, as well as a lesson about subterranean survival in the Pathfinder’s Journal.

This book expects the character to gain enough experience go from level 5 to 6.

The characters are needed to travel to a mysterious island and recover a fallen star. There they do battle with creatures out of nightmares, fighting pirates and have another encounter with the Drow leading them to an ancient elven ruin at Celwynvian.

My players had fun getting to the island, but ended up walking through the encounters fairly quickly with a lot of lucky rolls and negotiation. They found the Drow hideout and managed to defeat him with little trouble. It was here that the conversion from Pathfinder for the players was an advantage as I run the NPC’s as their 3.5 stat blocks.

Book Contains:

  • Introduction (2 pages)
  • 5 part Adventure (24 pages)
  • The Stars are Right – Into the Black (8 pages) A look into the solar system of Golarion
  • Cyden Cailean (8 pages) A discussion of the god, his faith and followers.
  • Teeth of Arasha (8 pages) A 4th level side adventure set within the adventure path.
  • Pathfinder’s Journal – Darkest before the Fall (8 pages)
  • Bestiary (12 pages)
  • Pregen characters of level 4 (2 pages)

Book 15 – The Armageddon Echo

4 Sessions: I ran it over 4 sessions (Sessions 8 to 11) from 28th of October 2014 to 20th January 2015.

After centuries of silence, the elven forest city of Celwynvian has brought in adventurers to help quell a secret shame which has risen up from the depths—and in process has revealed the truth of the cataclysm known as Earthfall. Also includes overviews of the drow of Golarion and the fallen elven capital of Celwynvian, as well as a showdown with an old enemy in the Pathfinder’s Journal.

This book expects the character to go from levels 7 to 9.

Having determined that the real threat is coming from Celwynvian, the party needs to travel there after convincing the elves at Crying Leaf they are there to help. In helping save the ruins from the Drow, the player characters will end up as their prisoners.

My group loved the exploration of the ruined city as well as the approach to it. They spent more time exploring than fighting and roleplayed the planning of the various assaults and coordination between all the allied elements. This was the most enjoyable of the books to run as the group really meshed with the storyline. The final battle was epic.

Book Contains:

  • Introduction (2 pages)
  • 7 part adventure (42 pages)
  • Celwynvian – An ancient elven city (6 pages) this is what is need to plan the assaults and defences of the various elements in the campaign.
  • Drow of Golarion – A surprising read, much needed for the series (12 pages) This is everything you need to know to run a group of Drow, their community and their gods.
  • Lament for Emerald Ruins (8 pages) A side adventure for characters of level 7.
  • Pathfinder’s Journal – And Your Enemies Closer (6 pages)
  • Bestiary (10 pages)
  • Pregen characters at level 7 (2 pages)

Book 16 – Endless Night

2 Sessions: I ran it over 2 sessions (Sessions 12 to 13) from 3rd February 2015 to 17th February 2015.

The heroes magically disguise themselves as drow in order to infiltrate the dark elf city of Zirnakaynin and put an end to the drow’s world-shattering plot. Also includes an overview of sunless Zirnakaynin, the secrets of the drow art of fleshwarping, and the awakening of an evil that could jeopardize all of Golarion in the Pathfinder’s Journal.

This book expects the character to go from levels 10 to 11.

The group will find themselves in the Drow city of Zirnakaynin in the Last Home of the Elves. The groups task is to infiltrate and gain information about the plans of the Drow. They are offered a chance to gain the information they seek, for a price.

My players willingly took on the price that was offered after working their way up the ranks of servants in the Drow house. They managed to escape with little effort thanks to their spell selections. This was not much fun to run, and if I was to run it again I would definitely do it differently.

Book Contents:

  • Introduction (2 pages)
  • 7 part adventure (42 pages)
  • Zirnakaynin (10 pages) – A Drow city at the height of its power
  • Abominations of the Drow (8 pages) Fleshwarping and the various things you can create with it.
  • The Blood Below (8 pages) – another side adventure for characters of 9th level.
  • Pathfinder’s Journal (6 pages) – City of Serpents
  • Bestiary (12 pages)
  • Pregen Characters level 10 (2 pages)

Book 17 – A Memory of Darkness

2 Sessions: I ran it over 2 sessions (Sessions 14 to 15) from 3rd March 2015 to 17th March 2015.

The end of the world looms draw near, yet still there are those who would place their petty conspiracies over the survival of Golarion. In the high elven courts of Kyonin, the PCs must root out corruption at the highest level and dare the demon-haunted forest whose secret now threatens an entire world. Also includes a gazetteer of the elven nation of Kyonin and the seductive faith of Calistria, goddess of trickery and revenge, as well as a desperate race to Absalom in the Pathfinder’s Journal.

This book expects the character to go from levels 12 to 13.

Characters arrive in the elven city of Kyonin where you get to meet the Queen, stop a conspiracy and uncover the truth about how Drow came about in the world.

My characters were not interested in talking with the first main non-player character in the storyline, seeing her as an obstacle and then moving on to the final encounter felt like a charge to the finish instead of an investigation. They succeeded, and the reveal at the end was very lack luster.

Book Contains:

  • Introduction (2 pages)
  • 4 part adventure (42 pages)
  • Kyonin (8 pages) – the elven nation in the heart of Golarian.
  • Calistria (8 pages) – The goddess of love, lust and punishment.
  • Sun Dagger’s Crown (8 pages) – A side adventure for 11th level characters.
  • Pathfinder’s Journal (6 pages) – A thousand miles to Absalom
  • Bestiary (12 pages)
  • Pregen characters level 12 (2 pages)

Book 18 – Descent into Midnight

2 Sessions: I ran it over 2 sessions (Sessions 16 to 17) from 31st March 2015 to 17th March 2015.

As the drow recite the final incantations designed to bring about the end of the world, the heroes have only one desperate chance: to descend into the primeval Land of Black Blood and shatter the drow’s conspiracy once and for all. Also includes overviews of the Land of Black Blood and the demon lords of the Abyss, as well as the final chapter in the Eando Kline saga, in which the Pathfinder must ultimately choose between his duty and his conscience.​

This book expects the character to go from levels 14 to 17.

The final book sends the character back underground “Into the Darklands” to try and end the Drow plot before they can bring a second darkness to Golarian. This is the culmination of the storyline and a reveal about how it happened the first time, and how it can happen again.

My players rushed to the end and with use of Mythic power made the adventure too easy and no challenge. Without mythic, the spells they had at their disposal at this level was more than enough to overcome most of the problems along the way and I would set this at a lower level or make the opponents and puzzles more interesting. Though I had to provide more information to my players about the final puzzle for them to be able to solve it and complete the adventure. There was a risk at the time of failure so I may have over provided for the solution making this adventure over too quickly.

Book Contains:

  • Introduction (2 pages)
  • 9 part adventure (42 pages)
  • The Land of Black Blood (6 pages) the final region of the adventure where everything happens.
  • Demon Lords of Golarion (10 pages) Going into greater details of the demon lords
  • Infestation (8 pages) A side adventure for 14th level characters.
  • Pathfinder’s Journal (8 pages) – End of the Road
  • Bestary (10 pages)
  • Pregen Characters level 14 (2 pages)

Resources Available

AP Map Folio

This provides an excellent map of the city.

The other game are maps are okay, and handy when running the game, but it is missing a map of the country Varisia that was in the previous adventure path, so collecting all the map folio’s might be useful.

AP Dice

These dice a good, though they have the same symbol on all the maximum number locations on all the dice which can be a little harder to read, but as long as you know how many sides the dice should have you will be fine.

GameMastery – AP Item Cards

There are some nice imagery based on the setting. This works well with the other item cards and recommended for adding a little flavour to the tabletop.

Conclusion

If I was to run this again, I would either convert it all over to the system that I was running, or run it as it was intended as a 3.5 rules set. I think some of my disappointment with this adventure path was the group, and the following one was amazing so it might be worth a second look.

Content Updates

  • 2021-07-31 – Updated the menu and layout.
  • 2020-10-19 – Migration of Content from Realm Works
  • 2020-04-26 – Structure.
  • 2019-08-12 – Migrated from old site.
Pathfinder 1E

Game Management: Annotated Stat Blocks, Choosing a New Campaign, Creating a Campaign, Running Games over Skype, Tracking Experience

Building Characters: Pathfinder Unchained: Rogue, Freeport: Freebooter (Pirate)

Adventure Paths: AP #1 – Rise of the Runelords, AP #2 – Curse of the Crimson Throne, AP #3 – Second Darkness, AP #4 – Legacy of Fire, AP #5 – Council of Thieves, AP #6 – Kingmaker, AP #7 – Serpent’s Skull, AP #8 – Carrion Crown, AP #9 – Jade Regent

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By thedarkelf007

I am a long term gamer, I run 6 RPG's a fortnight, host board game, card game and LANs each about once a quarter and have an addiction to buying more games. Games I am currently running are Pathfinder (1st and 2nd Edition) and Dungeons and Dragons (5th Edition).

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